News in Brief

Brussels, Belgium

The appearance and operations of the world’s most popular search engine may be in for a slight change. According to Agence-France Presse, Google and the European Union are settling on an agreement to end a long-standing dispute that highlighted Google’s “preference in search results to its own services.” While the new agreement will force Google to give greater visibility to competitors’ Web listings, Google would retain its EU surfers and avoid a $5 billion fine from the European Commission.

Seoul, South Korea

A South Korean missionary operating under the alias “M.J.” came agonizingly close to helping nine North Korean escapees find freedom in South Korea. M.J. and the escapees, ages 15 – 23, evaded North Korean border patrol and had since traveled thousands of miles to Laos, a nation south of China. On the verge of claiming asylum in either South Korea or the U.S., the children were discovered by Laos airport authorities and returned to North Korea.

Washington, D.C., USA 

Since 1974, each fiscal year has begun on Oct. 1.  And since 1974, Congress has only failed to agree on a spending plan on two occasions. Make that three. This week, Republicans and Democrats could not agree on a proposal by the Oct. 1 deadline, signalling the first government shutdown since 1996. Disagreement in Congress arises primarily from the president’s signature policy known as Obamacare. While Democrats remain content with the current provisions, Republicans demand that the spending plan include amendments to either defund or thwart Obamacare initiatives.

Caracas, Venezuela

On Sept. 30, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused three U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas of attempted sabotage. “Yankee go home … (you) have 48 hours to leave the country,” Maduro said on VTV, the state-owned television network. His accusations are on based on alleged meetings between the diplomats and Maduro’s right-wing political opponents. Last week, the Venezuelan president did not attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York, indicating a fear of “plots to physically harm him there,” according to CNN.